Eating wholegrains, vegetables and vital fatty acids can protect your body from a host of chronic diseases and protect your brain from cognitive decline as you grow older.
People who stick to a Mediterranean-style diet in midlife have a 40 per cent greater chance of surviving past the age of 70 with no physical or cognitive impairment, according to a study published in Annals of Internal Medicine.
Researchers from the University of Bordeaux in France and Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, USA, reviewed dietary data from a survey of 10,670 women who were in their late 50s and early 60s at the time of the questionnaire.
The researchers found a group, which they named “healthy agers”, who reached 70 free from 11 chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes and had no impairment in cognition or physical disabilities.
This study highlights that eating well isn’t a quick fix but a long-term investment to help us stay wel
Victoria Taylor, senior dietitian at the British Heart Foundation
This group typically ate more fruit and vegetables, whole grains and fish. They also limited their alcohol intake and ate less red and processed meats.
The researchers concluded: “Better diet quality at midlife seems to be strongly linked to greater health and well-being in persons surviving to older ages.”
Victoria Taylor, senior dietitian at the British Heart Foundation, said: “This study highlights that eating well isn’t a quick fix but a long-term investment to help us stay well.”
Dr Simon Ridley, head of research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “Diseases such as Alzheimer’s are likely to be caused by a mix of genetics and environmental factors, and investment in research to understand these factors is vital.
“The best evidence suggests people can lower their risk by eating a healthy, balanced diet, exercising regularly, not smoking, and keeping blood pressure in check.”